SHANGHAI, China, October 19 – Didier Drogba will miss a Shanghai Shenhua game Saturday due to an ankle injury sustained when Senegal fans rioted during a match against his national side last weekend, the club said.
The former Chelsea striker, who has just arrived back in China after international duty for the Ivory Coast, will not play against seventh-placed Changchun Yatai, manager Sergio Batista said Friday.
A club official described the injury to his right ankle as “light”. At a practice session on Friday evening, Drogba was visibly limping though he kicked the ball with his left foot, an AFP photographer witnessed.
French striker Nicolas Anelka and Colombian midfielder Giovanni Moreno were also hurt and would not play in the game, Batista said.
“Drogba, while playing for his national team, was kicked and has some foot swelling,” said Batista, according to a transcript of the news conference posted by media website Shanghai Online.
The club official said: “In the riot at the Senegal match, Drogba received a bit of a light injury, but the situation is not serious.”
Explaining why the other players would not take part, Batista said: “Moreno’s foot has some swelling. Nico has pulled a thigh (muscle), he still has not completely recovered.”
Drogba returned to China after scoring twice in Ivory Coast’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Senegal, which had to be abandoned in the second half because of rioting fans.
The absence of the three foreign stars follows a reported protest by the club’s Chinese players earlier this week over unpaid wages.
Shenhua players were said by Chinese media to have protested on Monday over a pay dispute, turning up late for practice at the club’s training ground and taking a leisurely stroll around a running track.
Chinese media have previously reported that Shenhua’s chief investor Zhu Jun has threatened to withhold salaries of foreign players unless he is granted majority control of the club.
There have been rumours Drogba is preparing to leave Shenhua amid the boardroom struggle, but he denied the speculation in an interview last month.
Batista did not refer to the recent protest, but he said he expected the club’s Chinese players to take up the slack in the absence of foreign talent.
“I have confidence in the Chinese players and I believe they can take the game,” he said.
With just three matches to go in the season, Shenhua is languishing in ninth place.